Dear New Life Friends,
Today is Ash Wednesday, but I think you should eat chocolate…
Long ago, the early church determined that Easter, much like Christmas, was too important of a holy day to rush into. So, they developed a period of preparation and reflection prior to the holy day so that people would experience the implications and importance of the holy day. Thus, the season of Lent (40 days before Easter not including Sundays).
Ash Wednesday, begins the season of Lent and is often marked by someone putting ashes on a person’s forehead in the sign of a cross representing humility and repentance. As it is being done, often the words, “From dust you came and to dust you shall return” are shared as a reminder of our mortality.
Also, the season of Lent has been a time when people engaged in the spiritual practice of fasting. Unfortunately, fasting has been reduced to giving up something you like, such as coffee, chocolate, soda, to demonstrate self-denial but then gorging on it as soon as Easter arrives. This misses the point of identifying with all that Christ went through on our behalf, so…
As a pastor friend of mine encourages, why not eat all the chocolate you want and instead of giving up something, add a spiritual practice during this season of Lent? That way, by the time we arrive at Easter, we are more in touch with God and we've incorporated into our lives a practice that we actually want to continue following Easter!
So, let me invite you to commit to adding four practices during Lent:
- Weekly Worship - Commit to being with your New Life family in worship every Sunday unless you are ill or out of town as we talk about Extravagant Love.
- Weekly LifeGroup - You can do almost anything for six weeks, so give a LifeGroup a try as we encounter (not just talk about) The Easter Experience.
- Daily Prayer and Bible Study - Either choose one of the gospels in the Bible (Matthew. Mark, Luke or John) to read through so you get to the crucifixion and resurrection by mid-April or purchase the materials that will be used in LifeGroup - The Easter Experience Participant Guide and Devotional.
- Special Offering - Our Special Easter Offering will be to support a Sign Language Interpreter ministry. What would it be like to walk through this world in silence? Consider putting aside a quarter or $1 every time you listen to music, podcast or a book over the course of these 40 days and bring that money in on Easter Sunday as an offering to enable others to “hear” what you hear.
The point is to add something that will enhance your relationship with God over the next six weeks.
Take time today, the beginning of the season of Lent, to dedicate this time period before Easter to prayer, reflection and growing deeper in your relationship with God. Then the cross and the resurrection will have so much more significance at Easter.
Going to find some chocolate,